5 minutes with Guy Southern aka Goodtimes Craft Beer

Alright, let’s kick off with an apology and a confession.

First, sorry for the absence here! Hopefully, you’ve been following along on my Instagram where I am much better at regularly posting.

Speaking of Insta, that brings us nicely into my return to my blog with this post featuring Instagram legend, Guy Southern, aka Goodtimes Craft Beer.

(and if you’re wondering about the confession, it’s quite simply that this is not going to be a 5-minute read but I can tell you for sure, it will be fun and interesting!)

I always love catching up with Guy because he brings a unique perspective to the beer industry and articulates it perfectly. His articles on Crafty Pint are some of the best reading in Australian beer and he’s also one of the nicest and most fun guys to have a beer with. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again and again, beer people are the best people.

Grab yourself a beer, get comfy and get to know Guy a bit better as he talks about how he started writing about beer, the idea of a WA brewing identity, the Instagram accounts that inspire him and a list of breweries, locally and internationally, who are impressing him.

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Guy during the launch of his collab brew with Rocky Ridge and Devine Cellars at Petition, November 2018

What inspired you to start writing about beer?

I’m not sure if it was inspiration but around 2013/14 I formalised what I’d been posting about beer on Facebook into the original Goodtimes blog. There wasn’t much to draw from back then so I pretty much ripped the concept off Girl + Beer – you might know her. The following year, Joel Beresford (The Dutch Trading Co.) introduced me to a man that I’d literally bumped into while trying to order a beer at Beer DeLuxe during Good Beer Week. As a result of a that 45 second conversation, I began writing long form articles and reviews for James Smith AKA the Crafty Pint. In hindsight, the naïve arrogance that I might have something to contribute has served me well.

As far as writing goes, I can thank my Dad for a love of language which was supported by a couple of high school teachers.  This led to a half-completed English / Public Relations degree which was rudely interrupted by a lengthy retail career. From this viewpoint, nothing has really changed in over 20 years – I’m still writing, mitigating and encouraging people and businesses to be more than they might think they can be, or at least be curious about opportunities they might not have considered.


Read: The Story of: Hop Hog at Ten at Crafty Pint by Guy Southern


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Dan (Billabong), Guy and Steve (WA Beer Runner/The Good Beer Project) during 2017 WA Beer Week

Which three breweries are currently impressing you and why?

I’m lucky to have great friends that share great beer so I’m not going to answer the question directly. Haha.

Internationally, Cornish brewery Verdant is consistently delicious. Noting them is also a halo for the broader UK scene of Cloudwater, Left Handed Giant, Northern Monk and others. From Europe I’ll drop Spanish brewery Garage Beers into this and Cantillon is undeniably hype-worthy. From the US, Perennial, Cycle and Hill Farmstead have also been delicious this year. All amazing beers but also amazing artwork – design is not an afterthought!

Nationally, I been lucky to try a lot of Range Brewing’s beers through trades that have been great. Wildflower continues to excite and Philter’s new IPA is crushable. 3 Ravens and Boatrocker keep building momentum with exceptional releases and I love what Van Dieman and Ocho are doing.

Locally, it’s never been better to be a WA beer drinker. The diversity and quality coming of WA breweries is insane. I really don’t want to single anyone out so I’ll just note Rocky Ridge purely for the opportunity to collaborate on Devine Goodtimes – Barrel Aged Sparkling Saison.

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What are some of your favourite Instagram accounts and why?

I really enjoy Instagram and have made some great friends through the platform. For Goodtimes Craft Beer I mainly follow beer accounts although there are few others that inspire me. I’m less interested in the lifestyle – ‘here’s me with a beer’ – side of Insta and more interested in creativity.  Most importantly, I respect well curated, engaging accounts with a consistent visual language.

Beer and booze:

Sips and Sessions – Ash inspires me and never fails to deliver, Beer Thread – Leon has a consistent tone and some world class beer hustle!, Elitraks – seriously good photo work, Craft Beer Deer – for consistent tone and use of different scale within the square ratio to create interest, Beautifulbooze for styling ideas, Eagle Bay Brewing Co. – probably the most cohesive brewery account in Australia and likewise for Mane Liquor in retail.

[update: Guy also notes Phineasphrog as another good one to follow]

Architecture and design:

Mymodernmet, Kmsalvagedeisgn, Designboom and boluddha – these speak for themselves in their own way.

Lifestyle and photography:

Slice of Pai – I love the composition and cohesion of this account. It’s a great example of using colour to create a visual narrative flow through different locations, JR – not only is his art wonderful and subversive but the account is equally well curated, Tannaka_tatsuya – the sheer creativity makes you look at the whole world differently, Magnum photos – everyone should be following this account. As legendary co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson said “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually”, Peter McKinnon – check his gregarious YouTube videos for tips on improving your Insta game. A quick scroll through the account is a great example of moving from ice landscapes to desert to cityscapes through composition and tone. Likewise, Create Explore uses composition, especially by using colour, tone and really subtle visual symbols through the account to create visual narrative flow.

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I stole a ‘behind-the-scenes’ photo of Guy as he got his Instagram on at his beer launch!

Read: The Collaborators: Zendoke on Crafty Pint by Guy Southern


Finish this sentence: The WA craft beer scene needs more …

Identity.

When Phil Sexton and mates fired up the Freemasons’ Hotel in 1984, they started the idea of better beer in Australia and, courtesy of the America’s Cup defence, sparks were also sent to San Diego – and those folks seem to have done OK with the idea. Matilda Bay, Little Creatures, Feral, Eagle Bay, Cheeky Monkey, Rocky Ridge and plenty more have followed. For a state that’s birthed even this short list of world beaters, why aren’t we known globally for beer?

Of all the challenges that face WA breweries, venues and retailers – ownership / authenticity questions, consistent quality, tap contracts, market saturation, consumer knowledge, container deposit schemes and constantly changing algorithms – the hard truth is most punters don’t care and no one is coming to help. No one. The only thing that transcends all of that is a strong, cohesive and professional identity that all Western Australians can be proud of: WA Beer.

Over 2.5 million people live here and they have a rich beer history to be proud of, if we can get them engaged and involved with WA beer. Moreover, four billion people live just to our north who might be interested in a WA beer but that won’t happen in isolation nor should it be at the exclusion of the rest of Australia.

Western Australian breweries have supported the careers of many that are killing it nationally and internationally so a parochialism isn’t required, just a shared identity that we can all embrace, no matter how big or small the brewery is or what part of the beer industry people are involved in. WA Beer should be about retailers, venues, sales reps, journalists and bloggers as much as breweries not only because these people facilitate getting great beer to punters but because beer is inclusive – it loves everyone equally.

Lastly, without a strong identity, WA beer will, in time, be consumed by others with a stronger identity and agenda that has no regard for what has come before. It will be incremental and before you know it there will be no legacy and nothing to be proud of together.

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Guy, Kyle (Otherside) and Reece (Nowhereman)

What was the last beer you had that made a lasting impression?

I talk about context a lot. Timing, place and company have so much to do with how we enjoy not just beer but life in general. For the most part, I’ve stopped chasing beers and have put my trust a mangled thought I lifted from faded bumper stickers: Beer happens. The beer magic happens when you least expect it because you’ve helped others.

So, to actually answer the question, during the Devine Goodtimes brew day at Rocky Ridge I shared a fresh Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus with the collaborators. There were quite a few of us so the pours were small. An hour or so after sharing I saw Rocky Ridge rouseabout Jacob Nesbitt walk past sniffing the 80mls that I’d been able to share with him – he still hadn’t tried it. Lost in the aroma and grinning, he said that he’d never been able to try Cantillon before and really wanted to savour it. We were all blown away by the beer but that moment is a lasting impression for me. So much about beer is about everything that happens around the glass – the context just as much as the liquid and what went into making it. That’s the stuff that I think is lasting.

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Adam (Feral/Beer Sucks), Rhys (Otherside), myself, Guy and Brendan (Cheeky Monkey/Beer Sucks) at last years Getting Blind with Crafty, a blind tasting event, at Dutch Trading Co for WA Beer Week 

 

 

5 minutes with Jacq and Mark from Eat The Street

Happening on 17 March as part of Eat Drink Perth, The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour is hosted by Eat the Street Perth Walking Tours

[ less than a six minute read ]

All photos and images provided by Eat The Street

Eat the Street is a Perth walking tour company owned and operated by Jacqueline Baril and Mark Padgett who, if you’ve ever met them, you’ll know are excellent guides and lovely people. They’re passionate and knowledgeable about what’s going on in Perth and both are particularly in love with craft beer. Late last year Mark became a Certified Cicerone and, along with yours truly, joined a small number of West Australians currently holding such a certification. So who better to show people around Perth to find all the really good beer?!

What is a Cicerone? The word Cicerone (sis-uh-rohn) designates hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers. From Cicerone website. It’s basically like a sommelier but for beer!

On Saturdays, they run a dedicated Craft Beer Tour that kicks off at 3pm, because it isn’t socially acceptable to drink in the morning, and for Eat Drink Perth 2018, they are hosting a one-off special edition. Happening on 17 March, Jacq says The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour will be like their regular Craft Beer tour “but cranked up to 11!”

Eat Drink Perth: 1 – 31 March 2018

“We will have a special guest join us at each stop ranging from brewers to craft beer educators,”

The tour is extra special for Mark as it will be his first event as a Certified Cicerone.

The group will be a little bigger than normal with 15 guests and up to three guides depending on the stop and the special guest* assigned to each stop. The details are still being worked out but you can be sure a stop at craft beer favourites Dominion League and Baby Mammoth will be on the schedule and some pretty special beers and food pairings will be on offer.

*Note: I will be putting the ‘special’ into special guest by appearing on the tour too!

So you can get to know your hosts-with -the-most, I asked Jacq and Mark to answer five questions for this latest edition of ‘5 minutes with …’

Eat the Street’s Jacqueline Baril and Mark Padgett \\ Photo courtesy of Eat the Street

Which Australian breweries should people be watching?

Jacq: Wildflower, Mark and I got to meet Topher while we were in Sydney for Christmas. What he is doing there is pretty spectacular.

Mark: Batch Brewing in Sydney, Aether in Brisbane, 3 Ravens in Melbourne, Artisan are always doing something interesting over this way and great to see some city-based brewpubs!

What’s the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

J: The sheer number of breweries that have opened or are opening. Crafties are taking over. It means better beers on tap at the corner pubs and more adventurous styles are being brewed.

M: I think the quality. There has been a lot of growth in the last five years, but with that the bar has been raised for quality. Our local beer is amazing and certainly holds up to beers I’ve had anywhere in the world.

What was your epiphany beer?

J: Lindemans Pecheresse – there was this small bottle shop in Frank BC Canada that stocked craft beer. When Mark found it he bought the full range of Lindemans that they had available plus a few more choice internationals. Pecheresse and framboise were my favourites. This was the first time I had ever tried craft beer or lambics.

M: I can’t just list one so here’s a few! Weihenstephan Hefe Weiss beer, Jever Pils, Emerson’s Pilsner, Duvel, Cantillon Gueuze, Worthington’s White Shield IPA, Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

What is the most surprising thing one of your guests has said on your Craft Beer Tour?

I don’t drink craft beer! …. Saaaay waaaaht?

What is your favourite beer and food pairing?

J: Baby Mammoth did a Golden Gay Time pannacotta paired with the Golden Stout Time from Big Shed, it was awesome. For an at home pairing you can’t go past a good stout with lamb roast. It’s such a great way to warm up in the winter, and I am lucky that Mark is a great cook. My go-to local is the Nail Oatmeal Stout.

M: As Jacq indicated above, pretty much anything paired at Baby Mammoth ! Those guys are next level! But at home I love cheese and beer! All the cheeses and all the beers. Try a Schlenkerla Urbock with a smoked Gouda and a spicy salami or a Boon Gueuze with a double brie.


DON’T FORGET!

17 March 2018, 3pm : The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour – a special one-off tour for Eat Drink Perth 2018

5 minutes with Sam Fuss from Philter Brewing

Sam Füss is the head brewer at Philter Brewing (NSW) who released their first beer in March last year. Read on for more information on Philter and to spend 5 minutes with Sam …

If you Google “Philter” you’ll discover the Sydney brewery who opened last April. You’ll also find the definition of the word which is “a potion, charm, or drug supposed to cause the person taking it to fall in love, usually with some specific person.” You’ll also discover that Philter is the name of a 30-something Norwegian music artist who wears a big pink bunny head but I am getting sidetracked. With the tagline “Seductively Beer” I think it’s safe to assume the Sydney brewery is named after the love potion, not the pink bunny guy.

Philter Brewing is the result of three Sydney mates who wanted to “make a high-quality, easy-drinking beer with an attitude that was just as simple.”

In December, Philter released their third beer into the range, a lager, joining their XPA and Red, and the brewery got in touch to send me some samples. Big thanks to Melissa, Sam and the Philter Brewing crew for sending six cans all the way to WA!

The branding seems to be pretty divisive, more so than any other beer brand I can easily recall. Self-described as “1980’s Australia”, it reminds me of this ridiculous novelty hat my Dad had when I was a kid. It was in the shape of a top hat and was made from thick knitted wool and beer cans. When I posted photos of the beers, I got positive and less-than-positive responses which I’d imagine isn’t much of a surprise to the brewery. Admittedly, at first glance, I wasn’t a fan but the more I opened my fridge and saw these beers, the more I liked them.

Philter beers are not being stocked in WA just yet but you can get them sent to you through two online shops – The Booze Exchange and BoozeBud if you like great beer being delivered to your door!

Philter’s head brewer is Sam Fuss and her resume includes Matilda Bay*, Little Creatures and Young Henry’s, to name a few. Sam was also one of the founding members of Pink Boots Society Australia, part of a global organisation that supports and promotes women working the beer industry.

*I did attempt to link to the website but I got a security alert, just thought I’d mention in case it looked like I was deliberately leaving it out!

Sam is not only a great brewer with 16 years experience, she’s also just a great person in general and kindly agreed to this Q&A so read on for 5 minutes with Sam Fuss, head brewery of Philter Brewing …

Head Brewer Sam Fuss (right) and Co-Founder Mick Neil (left) at 2017 CBA Award Winners || Photo courtesy of Philter Brewing

Philter is still relatively new, less than 12 months old, what has been the biggest surprise so far?

It’s been a crackin’ year for us so far and taking out the Trophy for Best Pale ale at the CBIA awards was a huge surprise!! I thought they’d read out the wrong name, then I went a bit dumb! I was a little lost for words to be honest (which we all know is not like me at all!!). The other wonderfully surprising and humbling treat is how our beers have been received. We decided very early on that we’d have fun with our approach and why not, beer is fun! We’ve kept true to our word so far and we’re looking forward to upping the ante in 2018.
Loving this XPA, it’s full of passionfruit, grapefruit, toasty malts and a lightly grassy finish.

How long was the process to develop the XPA recipe and was an XPA always going to be the first beer for Philter?

In my head, I guess I’ve been working on a session ale recipe for about 5 years. I brewed a similar version under My “Old Salt” project banner, but have definitely refined it since. That comes from falling back in love with some old favourite hops like Simcoe and Galaxy and new ones such as Mosaic. Hop Flavour and aroma is a really big part of our beers along with keeping them sessionable. Our XPA is our flagship beer and is an awesome beer to brew!

Which beer style do you think is criminally underrated?

Not sure if I’m going to get booed on this one! But I reckon there is so much more to discover in lower to medium ABV style beers, Berliner Weiss, session ales the list Gose on (pun intended). These can be super complex beers and if you adding fruit, herbs or spices that adds even more complexity. A lot of it’s about balance and harmony between all of your ingredients if you achieve that you can make some wonderfully interesting and amazing beers, that aren’t necessarily about who can pee the highest up the wall with big boozy, high alpha, drink backwards, boob beard beers.

[girlplusbeer note: I believe Sam is referencing “gimmick” beers such as American brewery Rogue who made a beer with yeast harvested from one of their brewer’s beard.]

High on drinkability and punchy hop character, this beer is toasty and biscuity with a bright citrus finish.

You’ve done quite a few collabs in your previous brewing roles, who would you want to collab with at Philter?

I’ve had the opportunity to collab with some amazing people! Chef’s, Muso’s and some of the greatest artists of our time, spanning four centuries.

Watch: Inspired by ‘The Greats’ by Young Henry’s, a collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW

Whilst it’s not on my radar at the moment, I’d like to continue stepping out of the norm boundaries and brew beers with likeminded artists from all over the spectrum. It’s amazing where you can draw inspiration from!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for craft beer in Australia?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but as you hear from all parts of this brown land we love, it’s EXCISE!!! The Government needs to start to think about the little people, give small business a break, it’s well overdue!
Easily one of the best lagers I’ve had in a while. Delicate lime and grapefruit, bready and grassy with a rounded, dry, bitterness.

Big thanks to Melissa, marketing and branding for Philter, and of course Sam for your time, beers and awesomeness!

5 minutes with Steve Wearing from Homestead Brewery

Head brewer Steve Wearing took some time out of the brewery to answer my five questions so grab a beer, sit back and enjoy this short chat and get a little insight into Homestead, what beers are in Steve’s fridge at home and what it takes to make a really great wheat beer.

You’ll find Homestead Brewery, which was established in 2014, in the Swan Valley and helps make the Valley a great place for beer lovers to go. At the recent Perth Royal Beer Awards, Homestead Brewery received the trophy for Best Wheat Beer Draught for the second year in the row for their beer Kaiser’s Choice Hefeweizen.

Head brewer Steve Wearing took some time out of the brewery to answer my five questions so grab a beer, sit back and enjoy this short chat and get a little insight into Homestead, what beers are in Steve’s fridge at home and what it takes to make a really great wheat beer.

What is the key to making a really great wheat beer?

It’s all in the yeast – start off with a really good quality yeast and from there really get to know how that strain works. Factors such as pitch rate, oxygenation, ferment temperature and pressure all impact the esters produced during fermentation. Take detailed brew logs and manipulate these variables over many batches until you get the result you are after.

What has surprised you most in your time at Homestead?

The massive variety in beer preferences from those that don’t generally drink beer … When we run the brewery tour at Homestead, we give out tasters of each of the beers we have on tap, plus what’s in tank. We get a wide variety of people come in from those that don’t drink beer (they generally get dragged along by their partner) to seasoned craft beer nerds. I find it interesting to see which of the beers the ‘non beer drinkers’ take to – initially I always assumed it would be the lighter, cleaner beers like a lager. But it turns out I was wrong, often they really get into the heavier or more complex beers such as a stout or a big IPA.

So I think the moral of the story is if you don’t think you like beer – keep trying, you just haven’t found the style you like yet!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for WA craft beer?

Liquor licensing is definitely a big issue. Obtaining a liquor license is extremely expensive, takes 6+ months (in some instances much longer) and there is no guarantee your license will be approved. This is enough to stop the smaller players from even getting into the industry. If the process was simplified, we would see a lot of small brewpubs open up with a focus on production for on-site sales.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a local microbrewery just down the road?

What five beers in your fridge at home now?

Delirium Nocturnum, a few different varieties from Rodenbach, 3 Ravens Juicy IPA, Eagle Bay Black IPA and Coopers Best Extra Stout (plus of course some Homestead beer in the keg fridge!)

3 Ravens Juicy IPA

How important do you think it is to have a clear definition of “craft beer”?

The craft beer debate has been going on for quite a while and I personally don’t think there is a good way to define ‘craft beer’. If you try and base it on flavour parameters then it’s too subjective. If you base it on production volumes, then if a ‘craft beer’ brand is popular and successful and as a result expands to much larger production volumes, it doesn’t seem fair that it would then not be considered craft. Personally I don’t think the definition of craft beer is important, as long as there is transparency with all brands as to who owns the brand and where the beer is produced, this is enough for consumers to make an informed decision when making a purchase.

 

5 minutes with Tom from Clancy’s Fish Pubs

Long before Petition Beer Corner, Caboose and Dutch Trading Co, long before tap takeovers were a weekly occurrence, Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle was pouring local craft beer. Tom Fisher from Clancy’s chats about memorable moments and how craft has changed over the years.

Long before Petition Beer Corner, Caboose and Dutch Trading Co, long before tap takeovers were a weekly occurrence, Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle was pouring local craft beer.

When I worked for Little Creatures, the story goes that Clancy’s Fremantle was the first place outside of the brewery to pour Little Creatures Pale Ale. Delivered on the back of Elsie, the Little Creatures truck (geddit? Elsie/LC) who now has a beer named after her, the kegs were driven from the Fremantle brewery and delivered to Clancy’s Freo to be tapped fresh.

The Fisher family opened Clancy’s Fremantle in 1996 and today there are three more Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Canning Bridge, City Beach and Dunsborough. Every Clancy’s continues in the footsteps of Fremantle, supporting local and independent craft beer in a huge way.

Tom Fisher works with all the Clancy’s venues, looking after entertainment, promotions and the overall brand communications. He’s also a musician and a super nice guy.

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Right now Tom is promoting the launch of Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough Cape to Cape Tap List, that will see twelve of their 20-odd taps dedicated to south west breweries and cideries so drinkers can explore the beers and ciders of the south west under one roof.

“We can’t wait to show off the amazing beer from the region. The branding concept ties in with the legendary light-house to light-house hiking trail of the south.”

Tom Fisher, Clancy’s Fish Pub 

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On the other nine taps you’ll find even more craft beer from the rest of WA and, sometimes, further afar.

The Cape to Cape Tap List is less of a promotion and more of a commitment Clancy’s Dunsborough are making to drinkers that you’ll find these twelve breweries and cideries showcasing their stuff at the venue all the time.

29 June : Cape to Cape Tap List Launch at Clancy’s Dunsborough

To celebrate the Cape to Cape Tap List, I caught up with Tom for this edition of 5 minutes with …

What has been your most memorable day at Clancy’s Dunsborough so far?

Being involved with music side I’ve loved some of the concerts down there I’ve put on, like Fat Freddy’s Drop and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and one in particular, a Soul man from the USA called Lee Fields. No one really knew much about him but he just blew their minds. I watched side stage with an Eagle Bay Cacao Stout and was a very happy man.

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Clancy’s Dunsborough in 2013

What was the last beer you bought?

Ha ha, between being a musician and working for pubs I don’t buy many I must admit but did take home a delicious Canimal of Feral’s Finn Diesel and Eagle Bay Autumn Brown from Clancy’s Freo. (Waiting for you to hook me up a bottle of Clout Stout too ha ha) [girl+beer – maybe … one day Tom!]

Read more about Clancy’s Fremantle canimals here: 5 minutes with Ryan from Clancy’s Fremantle

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What beer style do you think is really under-rated?

I’ve been happy to see winter beers become more widely accepted in WA. The range of stouts and reds are some of my faves. So great to see these so prominent in WA pubs now.

What’s the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

The number and choice is incredible. 12 years ago you’d be lucky to see three reps a week, now it’s more like three a day and quality is super consistent, particularly the WA brews. I think we are leading the way and it’s why Clancy’s has been dedicated to serving WA craft beers since the late 90’s.

Finish this sentence – The WA beer scene needs more …

Hmm…. MORE BEER TAPS! Would love to be pouring and supporting as many as humanly possible. Just love to see punters sipping a craft beer and pouring money back locally and throwing the Coronas in the bin.

Hear hear! Thanks heaps Tom for your time and can’t wait to get down to Clancy’s Dunsborough again soon!

 

5 minutes with Adam Lesk from Cellarbrations Carlisle

A short Q&A with “Lesky” from Cellarbrations Carlisle chatting about winter beers, breweries he recommends watching out for and what makes a really great beer.

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Adam Lesk from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

Adam, who everyone calls “Lesky”, has been managing the popular beer shop since October last year, is an award winning home brewer and recently became a certified cicerone which makes him one of five cicerones in WA. You can find him at Cellarbrations Carlisle and get to know him a little better here with a short Q&A.

Lesky sat the exam for certified cicerone earlier in the year alongside fellow WA beer professionals Brendan Day, from Cheeky Monkey Brewery, and Scott from Mash Brewing (the three of them pictured below enjoying a beer after the exam).

Read: 5 minutes with Brendan from Cheeky Monkey
Read: 5 minutes with Scott from Mash Brewing
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L-R: Lesky from Cellarbrations Carlisle, Brendan from Cheeky Monkey Brewing and Scott from Mash Brewing

On the day of the exam, Lesky found a quiet cafe to sit and work on possible essays on beer styles. There he ran into Steve Blaine, already a certified cicerone himself and who conducted study sessions in his own spare time leading into the exam, and he confidently told Lesky he was going to be fine and to “go give it hell.” Exactly six weeks after the exam, the email came through with the good news.

“It was such a relief, more than anything, that all the time I’d spent locked away in the study paid off.”

What makes a beer a really great beer?

I’ve had a lot of really good beers in my lifetime but the one thing that always takes it to the next level is being able to share that experience with friends. The buzz that a great beer creates and the banter that goes along with it, elevates the experience to be one to remember.

Which Australian breweries should people be watching?

After being lucky enough to head over to Good Beer Week not long back and check these guys out, I’d have to say both Hawkers and 3 Ravens. Hawkers for their huge beers; their BA Imperial Stout, BA Barleywine and IIPA were all awesome and 3 Ravens for both their Wild Ravens series and their much hyped Juicy IPA.

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Image from 3 Ravens Facebook page

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

Big, hoppy beers are the be all and end all of craft beer. I’m a sucker for a really well made Pilsner and would like to see a bit more love thrown their way.

Do you think the term ‘craft beer’ is still relevant? If not, what term do you think should replace it?

To me, the term ‘craft beer’ is still relevant and should still hang around, I see it as more of a mindset rather than strict guideline to adhere to.

Winter is fast approaching, what is your go-to dark beer for cold nights?

Right now, I’m frothing on the new Cheeky Monkey Rum & Raisin Bock as I love its massively toasty character. After stocks of that deplete, I’ll be going back to the old faithful of Founders Backwoods Bastard as it’s one of my favourite beers of all time!

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Image from Cheeky Monkey Brewery Facebook page

5 minutes with Brendan from Cheeky Monkey

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Brendan Day, sales manager and brand ambassador for Cheeky Monkey Brewery.

Brendan recently became a certified cicerone, a globally recognise certification for beer professionals that covers ingredients, serving, pairing, styles and, of course, tasting.

It’s reported that the certification has a daunting 1 in 3 pass rate in the United States. Here in WA Brendan sat the exam alongside Scott Earley from Mash Brewing and Adam Leske from Cellarbrations Carlisle, and I am stoked to say that all three smashed the 80% minimum requirement to pass.

Read : 5 minutes with … Scott from Mash Brewing

“We had a study group that would meet up weekly for months before,” Brendan says, “so it was a pretty big journey culminating in a four hour exam, so to find out I had passed was pretty special.”

The study group, organised and headed up by Steve Blaine, aka “Blainey” who was one of WA’s first certified cicerones. With Brendan, Scott and Adam, WA now has five certified cicerones.

“I’d like to give a quick shout out to Blainey, who helped all three of us pass the exam!”

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Photo – DTC, January 2017, Study Session for Cicerone Exam

 

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

What makes a beer a really great beer?

A really great beer is one you remember a long time after drinking it. Whether that’s because it’s so enjoyable to drink, a style you’ve never tried before or a beer helping to celebrate a special occasion. There’s a lot of really great beers in my life haha.

What is the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

The WA scene is absolutely killing it at the moment and I think that’s the most exciting part about WA craft beer, the scene. You have brewers that are producing world class beers, reps that live and breathe beer, bottle shops that stock hundreds of different beers and are knowledgeable on them, consumers that are loyal to their locals and a community that supports each other. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

That craft beer is all about the hops. Yes, they may be slightly over represented in bars and on shelves, but if you think craft beer is all about the hops you aren’t spending enough time in your local breweries!

What was your epiphany beer?

I have two that I can’t decide between. Rodenbach Original and Anderson Valley Barrel Aged Stout. Both of these beers really changed my perception of what beer can and should be. I fell in love with them both as soon as I tried them and instantly started researching and hunting for other examples of the styles. Barrel aged stouts and sours continue to be the most memorable beers, although, perhaps not as life changing as those first two!

Finish this sentence: The WA beer scene needs more …

Barrels. More barrel aged beers and sours please.

5 minutes with Scott from Mash Brewing

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Scott Earley, brand ambassador for Mash Brewing Co.

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Scott Earley, brand ambassador for Mash Brewing Co. Like many people in the beer world, Scott is passionate about great beer and also happens to be a downright great guy too. Scott has been at Mash during a time of a lot of change including a full re-brand and the introduction of cans, both of which he played very significant roles in, not to mention the celebration of Mash’s 10th anniversary.

Scott has been hitting the books and recently sat the Certified Cicerone exam, the results of which are still unknown, and will continue to learn and study and he’s keen to help others learn about beer too. That’s why he is teaming up with the Belgian Beer Cafe in Perth’s CBD to present School of Beer.

He’ll be covering six topics, one per month held on the first Wednesday of the month, you can sign up for one or two or all of them!

Before you join Scott at School of Beer, you can get to know him a little better here where he talks about changing the way his mates drink, the growth of craft and what he loves about his job.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about craft beer?

I think the most common misconception about craft beer is that it is just beer.  It’s not just a beer it’s a drink, it’s a luxury, it’s a lifestyle, it’s sustenance, it’s massively varied, it’s food, it’s a status symbol, it’s heavily ingrained into our history as human beings and most of all it’s just plain freaking gloriously delicious when done right!  I feel that all beer is tarred with the same brush by so many and it has copped a bad rap over the many years due to unscrupulous large corporations and ridiculous tax laws that have strangled the life of beer over the years and left us with the conception that beer is a light fizzy yellow drink that is good for blokes to get pissed on and cause all of society’s problems.

I think the best thing about my job is I feel like part of an army of educators going out there and changing people’s minds!

You sort of get that Matrix kind of feeling when you start to see your mates bringing their own good beer to your parties rather the same old swill they have been drinking for years. It’s like “he’s starting to believe!”

What do you look for in a beer label / can design?

My opinion on label design is probably a little more skewed towards what’s ticking off the boxes from a marketing perspective rather than what looks cool.  I look at everyones designs and think, “yep, they get it” or “nope, sorry looks cool but your message is lost”.  It’s a tough gig trying to be individual out there at the moment. With so many people getting it right, it often feels like all your ideas are copying someone else’s work and you have to start again.

What has surprised you the most in your time at Mash Brewing?

I would say the growth of the industry in such a short time.  Not only is the demand going crazy but the amount of breweries popping up is bananas.  You sort of think “geez, I hope this demand keeps growing otherwise we are going to see a lot of cheap brewing equipment for sale in a few years.”

Scott showing people around the brewery

What is your favourite food and beer pairing?

I have been studying food and beer pairing for short while now and really I am not sure I have completely struck gold yet but a recent beer dinner saw a lot of the beer used in the actual food preparation and this really made a measurable difference to how the food was perceived and the what people thought of the actual taste while drinking and eating the same thing.

What is the most exciting thing about craft beer in WA right now?

Right now I think WA really seems to be kicking all sorts of arse.  We have some truly solid breweries pushing boundaries that I think would certainly give anything from the US or NZ a run for its money.  Though some stand out more than others there is little brewed in WA that is not quality.  The crew in the industry I get to work with and learn from in WA is also pretty rad.  I was only an outsider less than 18 months ago with ZERO industry experience and the amount of people who were more than happy to help me along was amazing.

5 minutes with Jack from Indian Ocean Brewing

‘5 minutes with’ is a 5 question Q&A with great beer people, this edition features Jack Purser, head brewer at Indian Ocean Brewing Co.

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Jack Purser, head brewer at Indian Ocean Brewing Co in Mindarie. The brewery is a slice of heaven in the (quite) northern suburbs of Perth where craft beer taps are not as abundant as in Fremantle, Perth CBD and other key precincts around town.

It’s been about a year since Jack took over the head brewer position from Mal Secourable, who you will find behind the tanks at Fremantle’s The Monk. In just a year Jack has achieved a lot with the brewery and assistant brewer Brody Watts. They’ve updated recipes for the core range of beers and their limited release beers, such as a black IPA called De-Husker Du? and Straight Rollers XPA have been keeping beer geeks happy.

Jack, who’s been in brewing since he was legally allowed to drink, has spent time at WA breweries such as Mash Brewing, The Old Brewery, The Monk and Homestead as well as some time at craft beer venue, Dutch Trading Co.

Here Jack answers five questions and gives us a little insight into the life of a brewer, a couple of hints of beers to come in 2017 from Indian Ocean Brewing and plants the seed for a brewery versus brewery cricket competition.

What has been your most memorable day at Indian Ocean Brewery so far?

Probably the day with, Dan Dainton (Dainton Family Brewery) and Joel Beresford (DTC). Dan was in town and keen to make something wacky. It also coincided with our brewery being in a million pieces for some maintenance so Brody (Indian Ocean assistant brewer)and I brought our home brew kits in and we made about 50L of imperial stout. The thing is a beast, 17% ABV and 200 IBUs.

It’s downright delicious but we’ve been so busy this summer that we haven’t had time to bottle it. We’ll look for a cold night in the dead of winter 2017 to bring it to Perth’s attention.

Joel from DTC and Jack brewing up 50L of Russian Imperial Stout - to be released winter 2017
Joel from DTC and Jack brewing up 50L of Russian Imperial Stout – to be released winter 2017

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

Oh that’s a tough one… I guess there’s two questions/answers here. A lot of people perceive the occupation of brewing as a romantic job. It can be bloody hard work. Yes, we have our days where we’re in the loading bay having a ball playing cricket or something. But come chat to us when we’re de-palletising four tonnes of malt in the middle of January or driving to work at 4:30am.

The other side of the question would be behind the markets perception of the product itself. I’m not basing this on any focus groups or anything but you constantly hear complaints about the price points of craft beer being too high. So perhaps the misconception is that we are over charging for our beer? I won’t get into the who, what, where and why’s of craft brewery keg and package prices but you don’t see many brewery owners with gold teeth and treasure chests in their offices.

What is your go-to beer after working a long hard day at the brewery?

Recently I’ve been going to our Little Red Fish. Made with/for the Long Chim Perth guys, it’s a lemongrass, coriander and sea salt session ale. I think we’ve got the salt levels right and the dry hop in balance, so it’s drinking quite nicely.

Little Red Fish at Long Chim Perth
Little Red Fish at Long Chim Perth

What criteria makes a GOOD beer?

A balanced recipe, correct mash temperatures and pre-boil pH, well looked after fresh ingredients, healthy yeast, a clean ferment and careful post fermentation practice!

I think if you have these parameters down to a tee, you are going to be in pretty good shape.

What is coming up for Indian Ocean Brewing this year?

We have some exciting times ahead. We’re going to bring back our XPA which got some love last year. We’re also hoping to get a gig with GABS [Great Australasian Beer Spectapular] too, so we’ll make something interesting for that… maybe even something sour.

We recently fashioned a cricket ball out of duct tape and malt bag strings. So I am really keen to assert the breweries dominance over the bar in hallway cricket. It’s going to take a little bit of work getting Brody’s technique right, he tends to fall over himself with his footwork whilst driving. But a few technical tweaks and I think we’ll be able to post some pretty competitive totals. Who knows, we might even be able to expand the competition to other breweries or the public. Like I said, exciting times ahead.

Jack Purser and Brody Watts, Indian Ocean Brewing Co
Jack Purser and Brody Watts, Indian Ocean Brewing Co. Photo from Indian Ocean Brewing Facebook

5 minutes with Dave from iKegger

‘5 minutes with’ is a 5 question Q&A with great beer people, this edition features Dave Thackray, co-founder of iKegger

iKegger are a Sydney based company selling mini kegs and growlers and I’ve recently added one of their 2lt “hummer” mini kegs to my collection. Maybe “collection” is a bit of an overstatement but I do already have about a dozen growlers and squealers so it begs the question, why would I buy another growler? Sure, the guys at iKegger offered me wholesale pricing on it but a discount wasn’t the only reason I got one and nor is a discount the only reason I wanted to interview Dave Thackray, one of the company’s co-founders.

iKegger - Hummer 2lt Mini Keg

It was over six months ago that Dave got in touch to see if I’d be interested in reviewing one of the products. There’d be some figuring out the logistics of getting one to me but Dave offered up a couple of solutions. As it happened, weeks before Dave got in touch, my partner had purchased a couple of the 4lt mini kegs for his work as a brand ambassador for a booze (non-beer) company. Predictably when the occasion called for it, like having eight or so friends around for dinner one night, we borrowed one of the 4lt mini kegs.

Working for a brewery and having a generous boss, I filled the mini keg with delicious beer from work. Between eight of us the four litres was pretty quickly drained but it had served it’s purpose well, it did what it said on the box and the night rolled on. It might sound odd but it wasn’t until the next day that I appreciated the iKegger the most –  there was much less tell tale clinking bottles in our recycling bin thanks to the iKegger!

iKegger - 4lt Johnson Mini Keg

So I went and bought one. The tap system works well and it’s super lightweight and compact, almost deceptively so to the point that I filled mine with water when I first got it to confirm it did in fact hold two litres.

iKegger

My 2lt iKegger fresh out of the packaging

So given my honest enjoyment of the product I was keen to interview Dave for an edition of ‘5 minutes with …’ and so, without more of my ramblings, here goes!

Dave Thackery - iKegger

Photo provided by iKegger

What Australian breweries should people watch this year?

Wayward Brewery in Annandale, Sydney is doing some quality beers and expanding rapidly, after finally winning a three year trademark court case against multinational SAB Miller they can now focus on the most important thing, beer! Another one to keep an eye on is a tiny microbrewery in Wollongong called Five Barrels, at this stage it’s owner/brewer/bottler/marketer Phil is running at his full 600L per batch / 1200L per week capacity (all that’s not sold to local businesses is hand bottled!). I tried an Imperial Stout last week that was top notch (nothing to do with the 10.5% abv and it being a freezing day!). He is looking to expand before summer next year and I’m picking it will be one to watch if he can scale successfully.

What is the most exciting thing about craft beer in NSW?

The huge number of breweries opening up at the moment is just staggering! I am obviously heavily involved in the industry as we try to keep an up to date map of venues that fill our growlers and kegs and also offer to supply venues with our products with their own logos but it still seems that every day I find out about another one I had no idea existed. Often right under my nose, for instance I’m regularly in Marrickville at Batch Brewery (another of my favourite growler filling spots, try Elsie the Milk Stout!) and had no idea that Black Font Brewery existed only a block away until last week.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about craft beer?

That it is inaccessible to people who like a cold lager on a hot day. I started iKegger with my girlfriend and a mate, neither of whom were particularly into craft beers. My girlfriends go to beer whenever we went to a new venue was to ask the bar tender what their “most normal” beer is. She has since branched out and her go to is a pale ale or IPA. I on the other hand love craft beer, I worked for years in The Local Taphouse as the Head Chef and tried everything that came through the door but I am not a fan of this doing something just for shock value.

For me there needs to be a damned good reason to be putting peanut butter, beard or vagina yeast into a beer and I’ve yet to find one.

How relevant is the term “craft beer”?

I think for passionate brewers who are working their asses off to put out beer that they are passionate about the term “craft beer” is completely justified. Like being a chef, being a brewer is one of those jobs you really need to want to do, otherwise when you realise that a huge part of your job is scrubbing, sanitising and rinsing on repeat you will be out of there in a flash. For this reason I don’t think that the term “craft beer” can ever be applied to a macro brewery. Sure they might spend hours developing recipes and doing tastings but at the end of the day it is the same job as the executive chef of an airlines economy meal kitchen. To co-ordinate 400 odd people to produce something consistently and for the least money possible.

What beer style do you think is really under-rated?

I think that Brown Ales are all too often bunched into a category and generally thought of as unexciting. This is a real pity as there is a huge diversity of flavour profiles and styles within it from a Belgian Style Flanders of light colour, some lactic sourness and malty to an American Brown which can have a quite high hoppy bitterness to it. The Nut Brown Ale from Holgate is a classic and one of their most popular beers with good reason.